A healthy lifestyle such as getting enough sleep, regular exercise and a healthy diet are key factors in order to maintain your productivity at a high level.
We have covered a whole range of hacks in order to maximise your productivity in our 100 Hacks To Get Things Done – The Ultimate Productivity List but let’s take a closer look on our brain.
It is important to mention that our brain is considered our primary survival organ and thus it has priority in terms of getting energy and nutrients supply. When we eat and drink, our brain takes the nutrients first, leaving the rest of the body fighting for the remaining circulating nutrients. You could almost consider the brain as our greediest organ.
For this reason, it is very important to consider well what to eat and drink so to have enough energy to keep both brain and body well nourished.
This means that by feeding the brain with the right nutrients, the rest of the body would be able to benefit too, and failing to do so, you will not only negatively impact your productivity level but also the quality of your life.
What we eat has a profound short- and long-term impact on our brain health and its functioning, influencing among other things mood, memory, learning and capacity to be focused. Over time, failing to support it with optimal nutrients, the brain will decrease more and more its ability to perform those tasks.
1. Omega-3 Fats
These are the healthy fats. They can improve your mood and memory and give you protection against brain disorders ranging from depression to dementia.
What to eat:
Fish; Chia Seeds; Flaxseed Oil and seeds; Radish seeds, sprouted, raw; Dried Butternuts; Walnuts (also oil); Fresh Basil; Dried Oregano; Ground Clove (chiodi di garofano); Canned Grape Leaves; Dried Marjoram; Chinese broccoli, cooked; Spinach.
2. Whole Grains
A great energy source since they enable you to focus and concentrate. Whole grains are rich in fiber and thus are digested slowly. They release energy over a long period of time since the glucose is released slowly into your blood maintaining a constant level of energy and preventing rapid rises in blood glucose.
What to eat:
Brown rice; brown bread; wheat pasta;
3. Vitamin B12
A vitamin that is important for the normal functioning of the brain and it’s nervous system.
Lack of vitamin B12 can lead to memory loss, weakness and fatigue. Eating vitamin B12 rich foods can help to combat brain shrinkage in the elderly and help to fight off cognitive decline.
What to eat:
Meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products.
4. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is not only relevant to support our immune system but it’s also involved in making neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which affects our mood.
Since we can’t neither produce it nor store it, we have to assure the supply on a daily basis.
Studies have shown that Vitamin C can improved ratings of stress, mental health and improved cognitive performance during intense mental processing.
What to eat:
Guava, Peppers (especially yellow), Kale, Kiwi, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Papaya, Strawberry, Orange, Lemon, Cauliflower, Pineapple, Peas, Cantaloupe and Mango.
If you’re experiencing brain fog, lack of focus and concentration, inability to handle stress and frequent headaches you might have a lack of magnesium. We need around 300-400 mg/day in order to utilise protein and enzymes. Magnesium is needed for optimal cognition as well as in order to strengthen your memory and your learning abilities.
Whole Grain, Legumes, Nuts and seeds are full of magnesium but they also carry Phytates which is an antioxidant compound that slows down the absorption of iron, zinc and magnesium.
What to eat:
Soy bean (boiled), Dark chocolate, Corn, Spinach (boiled), Swiss chard, Figs (dried, uncooked), Tuna (bluefin, cooked), Fish (mackerel), Kale, Brown Rice (cooked), Lentils (boiled), Green Peas, Tofu, Avocado, Oatmeal, Banana, Broccoli.
6. Vitamin E
Recent studies show that the consumption of vegetables containing high amounts of Vitamin E can reduce the risk of cognitive decline and slow down cognitive change by 40%
What to eat:
Sunflower seeds and oil, almond nuts, dark leafy vegetables like spinach and avocado.
Some foods have specific capabilities or are just so rich in nutrients for your brain that we want to list them separately.
All kind of nuts have a lot of omega-3 and vitamin E. Especially the walnut is called the ultimate brain food also related thanks to its shape to the brain. The properties of the walnut have shown to improve memory, enhanced brain function and prevent cognitive decline.
Lots of properties that give your brain a power boost. Vitamin B6 for improved cognitive function, magnesium in order to increase focus and pay attention, amino acids to produce serotonin helping you to regulate your mood, to stay calm and focused while relieving stress. Ultimately the fiber rich banana helps to release fructose slowly into your bloodstream, assuring a constant stream of energy fuel.
A powerful antioxidant that improves our ability to learn and retain new information. Recent studies conducted by the Tufts University show that blueberries may improve or delay short term memory loss.
This fruit contains a great source called quercetin (mostly the skin) that is responsible to keep mental juices flowing and protecting our brain cells. Researchers at the Cornell University have found out that the antioxidant can defend the brain cells from radical attacks and thus prevent cognitive decline.
Nutrition researchers have found out that eaten chocolate improves ”visual-spatial memory and [organization], working memory, scanning and tracking, abstract reasoning, and the mini-mental state examination.”
The cocoa flavanols have shown to reduce the decline in cognitive abilities in our brain and also influence positively our psychological processes.
Cognitive function is an intellectual process by which one becomes aware of, perceives, or comprehends ideas. It involves all aspects of perception, thinking, reasoning, and remembering.
12. Green Tea
A powerful drink that protects your brain cells and prevents disorders such as Parkinson and Alzheimer.
It is also shown that although it contains caffeine, it has a calming effect and provides relaxed concentration thanks to its amino acid.
As an extra point we want to mention that drinking water is an essential part to keep your brain healthy. Enough water will enable you to be more focused, have better concentration, think faster and think more creatively.
For more insights on how to actually grow your brain check out Daily Habits To Grow Your Brain.